Matemai Mbira Group coming to Asheville Arts Center on August 22!

August 4, 2009 at 6:11 pm Leave a comment

Spirit Music from Zimbabwe  |   Matemai Mbira Group

Concert at Asheville Arts Center, Saturday, August 22

Show time: 7:30 to 9:30 PM   |   Tickets: $15 advance, $18 at door

Matemai Mbira GroupPossessed of a pure, silken voice, Matemai’s soaring spirit-filled vocals capture the heart of all who hear him. This will be an amazing and electrifying show! Dancing Welcome. For more info and to listen to Matemai’s music, go to

Matemai Mbira Group is one of the top mbira ensembles performing currently in Harare, Zimbabwe and the surrounding townships. Based in Chitungwiza, the group takes its name from the totem of leader and featured vocalist Newton Cheza Chozengwa (also known as Newton Gwara or simply Matemai). American fans of mbira music know Matemai, former leader of the Nheravauya Brothers Mbira and Marimba ensembles, from his many recordings for (see and Mhumhi Records (see  The 2009 tour lasting from mid-May to August will be the long-awaited first visit to the U.S. for Matemai.

Considered one of Zimbabwe’s finest living mbira players, Matemai is a multi-talented instrumentalist, equally adept on marimba and electric guitar. Born in 1952, Matemai learned to play mbira while at school in Mangwende, in Mhondoro Reserve and moved to Dande in northeast Zimbabwe as an adult, where he became knowledgeable in traditional Korekore music. He has adapted a number of Korekore songs for the Zezuru mbira (mbira dzavadzimu), and is well versed in several mbira styles. For this reason he is much in demand to perform at a wide variety of mapira spirit possession ceremonies, often called to Dande to play mbira for Ambuya Nehandaone of Zimbabwe’s most powerful spirits. He is also a self-taught instrument maker who builds mbiras for sale.

Touring with Matemai will be Tinirai Jonathan “Simboti” Mazura (b. 1975), a virtuosic young member of Matemai Mbira Group. Mazura plays the kushaura or lead mbira, while Matemai plays the kutsinhira or following mbira, interweaving intricate counter-rhythms and bass lines into the mix. A respected elder gwenyambira (mbira player), Matemai may choose to perform on the large, deep-voiced bass mbira that he plays when the full band is present. The duo offer instruction in mbira, Shona vocals, and mbira-style arrangements for marimba ensemble or guitar.

MatemaiThe Mbira is an ancient melodic instrument played by the Shona People of Zimbabwe, traditionally used for spiritual/religious ceremonies to communicate with the Ancestors as well as a form of prayer and healing. The cyclical nature of the music combined with interwoven polyrhythm and trance inducing melodies creates a captivating sound experience.

**We are trying to sell out before the show, so act early for tickets and contact Christy Clavio, 828-777-0922.

***Also these Artists will be teaching a full weekend (August 20-24) of Zimbabwean Music workshops including: MBIRA, SINGING, MARIMBA, GUITAR, PERCUSSION, and STORYTELLING.


Entry filed under: Asheville Performing Arts Academy.

Montreat College event is TONIGHT at Asheville Arts Center 2009 Fall Schedule Available for Download

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